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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
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Dec  1
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Jan  1
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Sing Along: The Music of Stevie Wonder

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
URL Copied
Ray Chew
Now you don’t have to be shy about belting out your favorite Stevie Wonder hits like “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” or “My Cherie Amour” because you are one of the performers in this joyous sing-along concert. You’ll be in great company when R&B legends Leela James and BeBe Winans, keyboard wizards Paul Shaffer and Matthew Whitaker, and the soulful String Queens trio take the stage as part of the festivities. Composer and producer Ray Chew, music director of Dancing with the Stars and other hit programs, leads this jubilant celebration of an iconic music superstar.


Leela James
BeBe Winans
Ray Chew, Music Director

with Special Guests
Paul Shaffer
Matthew Whitaker
The String Queens

Event Duration

The concert will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Sponsored by Mastercard, the Preferred Card of Carnegie Hall

The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Lisa and Gregg Schenker in support of the 2017-2018 season.


Ray Chew, Music Director
As music director, Ray Chew performs at the helm of award-winning musical events with the world’s most popular artists, including Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Pharrell Williams, Justin Bieber, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz, Pitbull, Queen Latifah, James Taylor, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Jennifer Hudson, and Quincy Jones. Chew is currently in his eighth season as music director of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

Previously, Chew served as music director of Fox’s American Idol, where he inspired some of the best talent in the competition’s history and produced more than 300 contestant iTunes downloads. He has also served as music director for several network television series, including It’s Showtime at the Apollo and BET’s Sunday Best. His long-standing history with BET also includes overseeing the music for the network’s biggest annual events, such as the BET Honors, Celebration of Gospel, and the BET Awards.

Chew’s music direction is sought after for prestigious music specials and historic landmark events, including the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, the 2015 Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, the 2008 Democratic National Convention, President Obama’s Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, and the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards. In 2014, he was handed the baton to musically direct NBC’s broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, succeeding Milton DeLugg, who held the seat for 50 years.

Chew’s work with orchestras as a conductor and composer has carried him to prestigious venues all over the world, from the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to the Nobel Peace Prize broadcast in Norway.

At Carnegie Hall, he curated A Night of Inspiration—a sold-out, all-star concert to promote diversity at the famed venue, during which he conducted a 63-piece orchestra joined by a 125-voice mass choir.
Leela James
Acclaimed R&B/soul singer-songwriter Leela James has a discography of quality music that spans more than a decade. Her career first began when she burst onto the scene in 2006 with her debut album, A Change Is Gonna Come. Her music has since been featured on Dancing with the Stars, and she has starred on the TV One series R&B Divas: Los Angeles.

James’s talent is undeniable among her peers in the industry, and her music continues to resonate with fans today. She has collaborated with the best producers, toured alongside Maxwell and Ledisi, and earned many spots on the Billboard charts, most recently for her No. 1 single “Don’t Want You Back” from her latest album Did It For Love. James’s classic albums have also earned nominations for NAACP Image Awards and Soul Train Music Awards.

James has always had a natural ability to communicate a mixture of emotions with the husky and bluesy tone of her voice. While still a child, she was nicknamed “Baby Etta,” after Etta James. In 2012, she released Loving You More ... In the Spirit of Etta James, an album in homage to her idol. James’s other musical influences range from soul to funk and jazz, including legends like Chaka Khan and Al Green.

James has successfully toured three times in 2017. The songstress continues to rock crowds, performing an array of classics and new hits, including her latest single, “All Over Again.” She recently added to her family, giving birth to her second child this year. As a mother, she is committed to making timeless music that her fans can pass down generation after generation.
BeBe Winans
Benjamin “BeBe” Winans, the six-time Grammy Award winner, is the seventh child and youngest male of the Detroit-based First Family of Gospel Music. Winans is known as an inspirational, R&B, and popular vocalist, songwriter, and producer. He is also an executive music producer of Greenleaf on OWN and host of his own radio show on Sirius XM Radio’s Heart & Soul channel. His chart-topping, award-winning career also includes roles in such films as The Manchurian Candidate with Denzel Washington and a starring role in the original Broadway production of The Color Purple with Chaka Khan.

Along with CeCe Winans—his sister and frequent duo partner—BeBe is one of the first Christian crossover artists to hit the mainstream. From The Arsenio Hall Show to Good Morning America to The Oprah Winfrey Show, BeBe and CeCe have taken their message and presented it in a way that has touched, moved, and inspired diverse audiences. They are also the first brother-sister act to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Together, they have nine successful gold and platinum recordings.

In addition to his seven solo albums with guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, David Foster, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, and members of his family, Winans has won six Grammy Awards, 10 Dove Awards, six Stellar Awards, four NAACP Image Awards, and three Soul Train Music Awards. In 2016, the story of his life and career became the inspiration for a new musical, Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story, co-written and directed by Motown: The Musical’s Charles Randolph-Wright, with a book, music, and lyrics by Winans.
Paul Shaffer
For 33 years, Paul Shaffer served as David Letterman’s music director and sidekick. Shaffer began his career in 1972 as music director of the Toronto production of Godspell. He played piano in The Magic Show on Broadway in 1974, then spent the next five years with Saturday Night Live, where he played keyboards, composed special musical material, and—in 1980—became a featured performer. He also served as music director for the Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd), including their triple-platinum album and national tour. Later this month, he has a three-week residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Shaffer’s guest starring television appearances include Ed, The Sopranos, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Schitt’s Creek, and How I Met Your Mother. He recently starred with Bill Murray in the Netflix special A Very Murray Christmas, directed by Sofia Coppola and for which he also served as music director, earning him his fourth Emmy nomination.

In addition to his own albums, Shaffer has recorded with such diverse artists as Diana Ross, Yoko Ono, and Robert Plant’s Honeydrippers. He also composed the ’80s dance hit “It’s Raining Men” with Paul Jabara. In 2002, Shaffer received his first Grammy Award in recognition of his work on Earl Scruggs and Friends. That year, he also co-produced an avant-garde jazz album for his mentor, Tisziji Muñoz. His latest album, Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band, features special guests Bill Murray, Darius Rucker, Jenny Lewis, Dion, Shaggy, and Valerie Simpson.

Paul Shaffer’s Day in Rock is a daily interstitial feature that is nationally syndicated by Envision Radio. He is author of the best-selling memoir We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives.

Shaffer holds two honorary doctorates, was inducted into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame, and awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2008, he received the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor.
Matthew Whitaker
Born in 2001, Matthew Whitaker’s love for playing music first began at the age of three when his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard. At nine, Whitaker began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ. Four years later, he became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond in its 80-year history. He was also named a Yamaha Artist at 15, becoming the youngest musician to join the stellar group of jazz pianists.

Whitaker has already toured the US and abroad, performing before The Youth Assembly at the United Nations and on other world-renowned stages, including the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City; SFJAZZ in San Francisco; the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Florida; Monterey Jazz Festival; and venues in France, Italy, Morocco, and Japan.

Whitaker has performed with an array of outstanding musicians, including Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rhoda Scott, Cameron Carpenter, Regina Carter, Jon Batiste, Cory Henry, Marc Cary, Arturo O’Farrill, James Carter, Roy Ayers, D. D. Jackson, The New York Pops, and Hamiet Bluiett and his Bio-Electric Ensemble.

Whitaker was the first-place winner of Fox TV’s revival of Showtime at the Apollo in 2016; he has also been featured on national and international television shows, including an appearance on Ellen. Last January, he was named one of the 17 people to watch in New Jersey by The Record.
The String Queens
With a combined 40 years of experience performing at venues all around the world and teaching students across the country, The String Queens (TSQ) is an ensemble dedicated to creating music that inspires people to love, hope, feel, and imagine. All three members are passionate, pedagogically sound educators at the nationally recognized, high-performing charter school network KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), where Dawn Johnson and Élise Cuffy are orchestra directors, and Kendall Isador (former orchestra director) is a vice principal.

TSQ specialize in writing and performing pop, gospel, jazz, and R&B arrangements in order to bring an authentic, soulful “orchestral sound” to the live musical experiences. Individually, TSQ’s members have performed with famed music directors Michael Bearden, Ray Chew, Alan Gilbert, Rickey Minor, Adam Blackstone, James DePriest, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

TSQ’s members have performed at venues such as The Howard Theatre, The Birchmere, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Strathmore, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, The Potter’s House Church, Shanghai Grand Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall, to name a few. TSQ has also worked with award-winning artists, including Ledisi, Solange, Donnie McClurkin, Donald Lawrence, Whitney Houston, Kurt Carr, Janelle Monáe, Aretha Franklin, Fantasia, Lalah Hathaway, Richard Smallwood, Wynton Marsalis, and Ruben Studdard.

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